1999 Hall of Fame

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Induction Speech for Richard S. Wilson

Inducted November, 1999

Ms. Loretta Neuhaus, a Past-President, made the following speech on behalf of Ms. Eunice Reich-Berman, a Founding and Life Member, who regrettably was unable to attend the induction ceremonies.

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Eunice Reich-Berman. I’m responsible for managing Credit Research at J.P. Morgan Securities and I am also a founding and life member of FIASI. Tonight, it is with great pleasure that I stand before you to honor my dear friend and colleague, Richard Sutton Wilson, to the FIASI Hall of Fame.

I first met Dick Wilson in 1975 when I moved from investment banking at Warburg, Paribas, Becker to Loeb, Rhoades & Co. as a bond analyst. And who were bond analysts anyway? In 1975, they were all rating agency analysts with the exception of a few rating agency defectors who worked at Paine Webber, i.e., Russ Fraser & Company and at F.S. Smithers, i.e., Paul McCarthy & Company.

In 1975, I needed a letter of recommendation to join the New York Society of Security Analysts—that bastion of equity folk—and my colleague at Loeb, Rhoades, Mark Lightcap, told me to go over and make the acquaintance of "The Professor", none other than our Dick Wilson! This chance meeting became the start of a career-enlightening relationship and a 25-year friendship that I deeply value to this day.

At this point, I want to direct your attention to the J.P. Morgan table over there. There sits Dick’s fan club from our days at Merrill Lynch. He was our leader and we followed willingly. Dick used to refer to himself as "Dicky Doo" and the rest of us were the "Don’ts". We became the "Don’ts" because we sometimes doubted the advice he gave us…and of course, we were always wrong. Personally, I like to think of myself as the queen "Don’t"!

Working with Dick was so educational. He was rightfully called the "The Professor" because he knows everything there is to know about bonds. He even knows the two-sided markets of defunct, collectible bonds that are traded at R. M. Smythe & Co. He is the ultimate in approachability. His door was always open. To this day, he is my number one go-to guy. If there is something I simply can’t figure out, I call Dick. He never disappoints me with his deep knowledge of credit and fixed income securities.

Arlene Bookbinder, who is sitting at the J.P. Morgan table, always referred to Dick as "A Man for All Seasons". This title reflects his eclectic interests that become most apparent when you travel with him. He can be simultaneously reading three, four-inch-thick books on world history and biographies, writing a book for Frank Fabozzi, ordering bulbs for his flower garden, filling in his stamp albums, and auctioning his coins. Not only does he have many passions but he is an expert at all of them.

Dick’s deep knowledge and appreciation of history is reflected in his writing and research. For instance, in his book entitled Corporate Senior Securities, Dick thoughtfully included the history of the rating services in addition to the meanings and use of the ratings. Moreover, Dick always cited from J.P. Morgan lore the 3 Cs of credit. They are the character of management, the collateral, if any, behind the repayment of the debt, and the capacity of the issuer to service its debt. In later years Dick added a 4th C of credit; it was for covenants, which comes from his extensive work and expert testimony on indentures. In another book, Dick included an epigraph quoting such individuals as Chamberlain from 1911 and 1927, Mead and Grodinsky from 1939, and our own James Grant from 1986.

On your tables you will find further evidence of Dick’s historical fascination. It is a Bond Notes column from Financial World Magazine dated November 12, 1991 and entitled "A Holiday Shopping List." Dick recommends seven history books including Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

On the advice of his father who was a doctor, Dick did not go into medicine. Dick’s father felt that healthcare was changing and that Dick would be better served by going into business. (One wonders what his father would say about healthcare today?!)

Dick graduated from Wharton as an undergraduate student and received his MS from Columbia Business School. To this day, Dick spars intellectually with the writers in the Wharton Alumni Magazine and often writes letters to the editor disagreeing with specific points of view. As a result of this, Dick once refused my request asking him to write a letter of recommendation for a young friend of mine who wanted to attend Wharton. He said it could do more harm than good.

In any event, Dick never stopped his own quest for knowledge and the willingness to educate others. He has imparted his knowledge in his three books and in his contributions to countless others. Moreover, he has participated in committees and has written position papers for numerous scholarly research boards and journals such as the Financial Management Association, the American Enterprise Institute, and Friends of Financial History.

He used to conduct his infamous "Ding Dong School" classes at Merrill Lynch and he continues to educate and train analysts at Fitch/IBCA to this very day. It should be noted that Dick also maintains one of the most extensive book collections on financial history. He is the only person I know who has every edition of Graham and Dodd! For awhile, Dick even had his own web site—Ask Bondini—where he entertained questions on anything having to do with bonds.

And on the subject of learning and adaptability, Dick, who has a few years on many of us, is a techie! He was the only person to have a typewriter in his office at Merrill Lynch, and yet he was the first person in our entire group to purchase and master the use of a home computer. He systematically taught himself program after program and put all of the kiddies to shame. Today he is one of the most computer-literate people I know.

Life and work with Dick was not only educational but it was also so much fun. I personally traveled the length and breadth of this country and much of Europe and Asia with Dick and others on the team. Sometimes we had so many presentations to make in a given day that we decided to swap roles at some of the customers just to keep ourselves pumped up.

Once in the Tokyo airport, Dick decided to pull one of his stunts. As we were going through the metal scanners he called to a female customs agent, "Stop that woman (meaning me), she has drugs in her bra." Thank you Dick. This was the only time in my life I was ever strip searched! After the event Dick looked at me lamely and said, "I didn’t think she’d understand English."

Especially tonight, on the occasion of his being inducted into the FIASI Hall of Fame, it is important to highlight Dick’s long-term involvement with FIASI. Dick is not only a founding and lifetime member of FIASI, but he also served several terms as FIASI president as well as planned numerous of the early, annual, FIASI bond conferences.

So how can I leave you with the sum of Dick Wilson? Dick is a mentor, a teacher, a writer, a scholar, a consummate gentleman, and most of all, a treasured friend. To many of us who know him well, we know his lines by heart. He taught us that price is a substitution for quality, and all bond analysts are really pessimists. But on a personal level and to help us keep some sort of balance, Dick would sing Johnny Mercer’s Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative… And finally, in the words of Russ Fraser and borrowing liberally from Sara Lee, "Nobody Doesn’t Like Dick Wilson."

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